Helping Veterans with wellness and resilience

Shalom Project points the way to whole health


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In uncertain times such as these, we all could benefit from some calmness in our lives.

At the Walla Walla VA Medical Center, the Chaplain Service and Whole Health are collaborating to present the Shalom Project. Starting Nov. 3, the seven-week program will help Veterans get through this particular time to facilitate healthy living.

Chaplain (Rabbi) Paul Swerdlow began the program at the Northport VA Medical Center at Northport, NY. The word “Shalom” comes from Hebrew, meaning peace. Shalom comes from the Hebrew root word “Shaleim,” which means completeness. It reminds us that we experience peace, harmony and wholeness through completeness.

Army Veteran William Ferris (left) and Chaplain Parson discuss benefits of Shalom Project.

The Shalom Project is available virtually via VA’s Video Connect (VVC) for Veterans who receive care at the Walla Walla VA. The program will be led by Walla Walla Chaplin Troy Parson.

Parson was an Army Chaplain from 2002-2016 with 10 years of prior service. He received his Doctorate after completing 5 years of research on “Examining the Efficacy of Pastoral Care Practices with PTSD Inpatients.”

Being active in being resilient

“The Shalom Project comes at a time when people are fatigued physically, mentally and emotionally,” Parson said. “The project encourages participants to be intentionally active in being resilient.

“It is about addressing our complete being as one aspect impacts our whole being. They do not exist distinctly apart. Everything of who we are is interwoven.”

Army Veteran William Ferris served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 until an injury brought his overseas tour to an abrupt end. He volunteers in the Walla Walla community at a homeless shelter. He also serves on the Behavioral Health Veterans Advisory Council and the Behavioral Health Executive Committee at Walla Walla VA.

The goal of Walla Walla VA’s Shalom Project is to help the Veteran develop a plan for building and maintaining their own personal wellness and resilience through whole health.

Program will focus on these seven topics:

  1. Bonding: Focusing on our connections with others and our source of life.
  2. Mind: Being in the present while learning from the past and imagining the future.
  3. Body: Taking care of yourself by eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
  4. Spirit: Addressing the connection dimensions of reaching in, reaching out and reaching up.
  5. Emotions: Emptying the emotional jug; working on not misdirecting our feelings.
  6. Declutter: Simplifying your physical surrounds and schedule.
  7. Vision: Reflecting on things done; identifying what we want to continue doing and what we want to start.

Linda Wondra is a public affairs officer at the Walla Walla VA.

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